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Rep. Clay Shaw on new Ryan plan

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  • Philip Blumel
    This is from the Wall Street Journal s Political Diary, 6/24: +++++ Shaw It All We sat down with Rep. Clay Shaw, a Florida Republican, to talk about the deal
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 24, 2005
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      This is from the Wall Street Journal's Political Diary, 6/24:


      Shaw It All

      We sat down with Rep. Clay Shaw, a Florida Republican, to talk about
      the deal to create private Social Security accounts that he helped
      hammer out this week. He's a soft-spoken man but what he had to say
      was explosive. The bill now moving forward in Congress would create
      the accounts by using Social Security's "surplus," the money paid in
      payroll taxes every year but not used to pay benefits. The program
      is going to remain in surplus until 2016. Asked if Republicans could
      pass this reform to the system on a party-line vote he answered
      simply, "Yes. We could roll Democrats on this."

      This from the man who crafted his own Social Security plan earlier
      this year to create private accounts without scaring off all the
      Democrats. His plan was to leave the system intact and to
      create "add-on" private accounts of up to $1,000 a year with money
      from the general revenue -- in effect a new program. His confidence
      in moving forward now even without Democratic support stems from
      what he's hearing from his constituents back home. Social Security
      isn't the third rail in politics it used to be, but voters are still
      angry over Congress raiding the program and spending the surplus
      every year. The question Democrats now have to answer, he said,
      is: "What are they going to do with the surplus?"

      He also believes that when it comes to a vote, as many as 30 or 40
      Democrats will likely jump onboard for two reasons. One, this bill
      is going to be rolled into a larger package to include pension and
      other reforms aimed at helping older Americans. And secondly,
      Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have put a "gag
      order" on their party, preventing members from saying anything
      positive about Republican reform proposals. "But you can't stay
      silent on a vote," he said.

      What's more, this bill isn't the "exit strategy" everyone was
      looking for, "it's an entrance strategy," he said. Once the 130
      million Americans who would be eligible start to see their personal
      accounts grow, "the comfort level" with private accounts will grow
      too. In other words, look for other, more sweeping reforms to come
      down the road. Not that Mr. Shaw hopes the Democrats will get rolled
      on every reform. On Thursday Rep. Charlie Rangel, a New York
      Democrat, was seen chatting with Rep. Paul Ryan, one of the key
      Republican architects of the recent deal, at a hearing and saying
      positive things about the plan. "I could do business with Rangel,"
      Mr. Shaw told us.

      -- Brendan Miniter
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